HC allows minor rape victim to undergo medical termination of 30-week pregnancy
Post by Syed Rukaya on Tuesday, March 21, 2023
Srinagar, Mar 20: The High Court of Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh allowed 11-year old rape victim to medically terminate her 30-week-old pregnancy while observing that a woman, whether married or unmarried, has a right to get rid of her unwanted pregnancy.
Hearing a plea filed by a minor through her father seeking termination of pregnancy of minor, a bench of Justice Sanjay Dhar said that the present case is a "sad and sordid" tale of a victim girl who has been made pregnant at the tender age of 11 years.
"She is studying only in the 4th class and is expecting a great future ahead of her," the court said.
The bench observed that if permission to terminate the pregnancy is not granted to the victim, who has expressed her desire to terminate the pregnancy, "it will have serious consequences not only on her physical health but also upon mental health of the victim because she will have to live with the trauma and stigma of unwanted procreation throughout her life."
"This will not be in her interest and would also not be in the interests of the child that may be born. In these circumstances, if permission is not granted to the victim to terminate her pregnancy, she would be exposed to a miserable future," the court said.
Adding that the father of the victim has also expressed his desire that the pregnancy of the victim needs to be terminated and he has also filed a petition for that.
"While this Court is of the opinion that the victim should be permitted to terminate her pregnancy, it is also to be taken into account that she is at the advanced stage of pregnancy," the court said.
Justice Dhar said that whether termination of pregnancy of the victim at this stage would be medically feasible or whether it would involve any danger to her life, are the issues which have to be gone into by the experts in the relevant field, whereafter they have to take a decision as to whether or not the pregnancy of the victim should be terminated.
Allowing the plea, the court directed the Principal, Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar, to immediately constitute a Medical Board of a Gynaecologist, Paediatrician, Radiologist or Sonologist, Psychiatrist and any other expert that may be deemed necessary by the Principal to medically examine the victim on March 21.
"In case the Medical Board is of the opinion that termination of pregnancy of the minor victim can be undertaken without risk to her life, the Principal, GMC, Srinagar, shall ensure that termination of pregnancy of the minor victim is undertaken by competent doctors in accordance with the provisions of the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act and rules framed thereunder and all other regulations and guidelines prescribed for the purpose," the court said.
Prior to undertaking termination of pregnancy of the victim, the court directed, her fresh consent as also fresh consent of her father shall be obtained by the concerned doctors.
The bench directed that if the child is born alive despite the attempts of medical termination of pregnancy, the doctors shall ensure that all necessary care is given to the child.
The concerned doctors were also directed to preserve the foetus for the purposes of DNA identification etc. with reference to the criminal case which has been registered against the accused.
Justice Dhar directed the government to bear all necessary expenses for termination of pregnancy of the victim.
The Principal GMC was directed to furnish report before the Registrar Judicial of the Court within ten days, whereafter the Registrar Judicial shall list the matter before the Court on March, 31 to report compliance.